A Nebraska Congressman says Ukraine’s internal struggles prevent it from mounting a better defense against Russian aggression.
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry says internal problems hamper Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself.
“Well, the problem in Ukraine is that it has a weak governing structure,” Fortenberry tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “They are trying to rebuild, trying to stabilize before the forthcoming elections. The economy is very weak. Frankly, its system has not operated well. There’s been quite a bit of corruption.”
Fortenberry calls the tension in Ukraine the worst crisis since the Cold War ended. Ukraine is the bridge between Russia and Europe, according to Fortenberry, who adds Russia doesn’t want to see Ukraine grow closer to the West.
The congressman has had a chance to speak with Ukrainian ambassadors in Washington, D.C., including Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States. He says they express worry about a situation which has been volatile from the beginning, only to grow worse.
It is hard to determine if Ukraine is a piece of a grander plan envisioned by Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Fortenberry. Russia has claimed it wants a neutral Ukraine, not necessarily under its thumb, yet not part of the West.
Putin has recently warned the Ukrainian government of unspecified consequences for any use of force against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Other countries in the region have been watching closely the developments.Fortenberry says economic sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe have inflicted only minor pain on the Russian economy.
“But, obviously in the near term here, it’s not enough to overcome Putin’s, again, nationalistic desires and the potential for aggression here in eastern Ukraine,” Fortenberry says.
AUDIO: Congressman Jeff Fortenberry speaks with KLIN’s Kevin Thomas about the crisis in Ukraine. [7:45]
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]